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hands placement while skiing

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,
So basically a bunch of my race coaches have told me to bring my hands up enough so that I can see my poles. Especially in a Slalom course.

I know this would help my skiing as I ski better without poles where I hold my hands up higher than I would with poles. However, I have a lot of trouble keeping them up with poles. In a way it feels awkward and tbh I'm not sure how to position my hand high enough with a pole plant.

Thanks
Alvin
post #2 of 23

Alvin, as a matter of history, chipmunks have never been very good at holding their ski poles up. I think it might be because of the tiny little hands. :)

post #3 of 23
When I want to change something in my skiing, Alvin, I spend some time as often as possible on terrain where I can focus on that one thing with no other distractions.
post #4 of 23

Alvin, I feel bad about joking without offering some potentially helpful advice in regards to the issue. OK, so a drill I would recommend would include actually a few runs without your poles. From the top of the hill, ski down holding your arms straight out in front of you and imagining you are holding a giant acorn out in front of you so that everyone can see how huge and heavy your acorn is. Ski it top to bottom five times fast and you will be so happy to get back to your light ski poles that you'll be snappin them left and right like buttah. I do recommend your gittin on that asap, though, because, as the say: learning to plant your pole is literally the right of passage from peewee sledder to adult skier. :)

post #5 of 23

Alvin,

 

As a general rule, it's hard to change one's skiing by changing the position of the hands. More often, the position of the hands is a symptom of something else. You can't blame your coaches because sometimes a focus on the hands/poles can easily drive a subconscious change to other movements. For example, the drill where you rest the poles on the tops of your hands and carry them by "leveling" often does a great job at getting the hips and shoulder to stay parallel to the slope surface through induced leg movements. Another example is how lifting ones hands prior to pole touch while powder skiing can help induce extension unweighting. But if you are the point where several coaches have told you to get your hands higher that probably means the "just do it" approach isn't going to work.

 

If you stand with your hands at your sides, just lifting them vertically to your armpits isn't going to help you see them. If you keep your arms straight and lift your hands up, they will trace an arc upward and forward and you'll probably be able to spot them in your peripheral vision soon after they pass belt high. Try this move just bending from the elbows. When your arms get to a 90 degree angle, your hands should be just out of peripheral vision (you can look down and seem them, but that's cheating!). But if you bend at the ankles as you are moving your hands, then your hands will end up a couple inches more forward and you should be able to just barely see them. If you then add a little upper arm swing so that your elbows move forward 2-3 inches the hands should come clearly into view. Effective pole use incorporates all 3 of these movements: the hands moving up and forward, the elbows moving forward and the ankle movement to move the hips forward. Try thinking of the hands as pulling the hips forward. My bet is that your coaches don't just want your hands higher. They probably also want your weight to be moving "forward" at initiation as well. An on snow drill I'd recommend is skiing with your hands held behind your back. The intent here is that you will either automatically compensate with ankle movement or you will get a much stronger (Yikes!) sensation of being in the back seat.

 

If your poles are too long that can cause you to carry your hands too high and vice versa. Few people have poles that are too short. But as long as your looking at poles, you should take this opportunity to double check your pole length. The old standby of holding the pole at the basket end at a 90 degree angle is being challenged by a more modern method (which escapes my memory at the moment) which suggests a slightly shorter pole length (I remember it as effectively the old way with your boots on and down one notch from there - hopefully someone else has also heard about this). It could be that your poles are too long and that's why using them feels awkward.

post #6 of 23

I'm a lazy skier when it comes to hand position, skiing relaxed without stress leads to a very low hand position for me.  However, aggressive attacking, bumps, difficult sections hands come up and open into the proper position as required (I feel comfortable in both).

 

What TheRusty said about hand position being a symptom in most cases of something else and that is usually poor balance/stance.

 

I would suggest a video of what you are doing and let a few of the veteran instructor (a few of whom already commented) make a few suggestions and corrections.

 

Cheers,

post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

Alvin,

 

As a general rule, it's hard to change one's skiing by changing the position of the hands. More often, the position of the hands is a symptom of something else. Etc, etc, etc...

 

Rusty has nailed it.   Instructors and coaches often address the symptoms rather than the action behind the action (root cause of the problem).  Like Rusty, I'd be looking for an issue lower down that is causing your hands to be low. 

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post

Rusty has nailed it.   Instructors and coaches often address the symptoms rather than the action behind the action (root cause of the problem).  Like Rusty, I'd be looking for an issue lower down that is causing your hands to be low. 
In general I think this notion is correct but not necessarily with hands. What on Earth could someone be doing with their feet, legs or hips that would cause the hands to stay down or drop? Although, I will admit that having the wrong wax or no wax on sticky snow makes me drop my hands in frustration but only temporarily.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich666 View Post


In general I think this notion is correct but not necessarily with hands. What on Earth could someone be doing with their feet, legs or hips that would cause the hands to stay down or drop? Although, I will admit that having the wrong wax or no wax on sticky snow makes me drop my hands in frustration but only temporarily.

Just think about it for a moment. How do the hands function in a legged sport?   The hands react to other movement in the body's natural attempt to stay in balance. If "just do it" doesn't work, then the malady of poor hand position isn't habitual, but reactionary and the only alternative is to look elsewhere. And the only elsewhere to look is down.  

post #10 of 23

Actually, one of the first things I attempt to fix with most lower level skiers is hand position.  And I do this because hand position contributes so much to fore aft balance.  Many lower level skiers carry their hands too close to the body either too high or too low.  In both cases the inappropriate hand position tends to influence fore aft balancing to the rear.  Good hand discipline is just that, discipline.   It doesn't take a lot of skill to keep the hands in the appropriate home base, just discipline.   When doing any sort of gymnastic tumbling and aerial maneuvers, hands are used to accelerate or decelerate rotations of the body.  Hands too close to the center of the body and the upper body over rotates and accelerates it's movements.  Hands further away from the center, the rotations slow down.   Home base for the hands: elbows  ahead of the mid axial line, hands wider than the elbows, hands above the hips but lower than the elbows.   I also see poor hand position with pole plants, pole swings, pole taps and pole touches which often throws  upper body alignment  out of position contributing to  upper body rotation and other maladies.   Because the hands are relatively light they can also be accelerated out of position by forces generated by minute loses of balance  during turning and sharp changes in terrain.    Just a thought.  YM

post #11 of 23

Phil and Steve Mahre's "Rules of Arms" for basic "ready" arm/hand stance, from the Mahre Training Center at Keystone (formerly):

 

1. Elbows forward of your spine.

2. Hands at least as wide apart as elbows.

3. If poles were half as important as most people seem to think they are, we'd call the sport, "Poling."

 

;)

 

Best regards,

Bob

post #12 of 23
I cannot fathom why it is so hard for some students to maintain a "home position" with the hands. As yogaman mentions, it takes zero skil. From my perspective, it instantly affords the skier significant control over their rotation and balance.
post #13 of 23

They swing their arms when walking.  It takes intense concentration to stop that very deeply embedded habit.

Their minds are on other things.

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
 

Phil and Steve Mahre's "Rules of Arms" for basic "ready" arm/hand stance, from the Mahre Training Center at Keystone (formerly):

 

1. Elbows forward of your spine.

2. Hands at least as wide apart as elbows.

3. If poles were half as important as most people seem to think they are, we'd call the sport, "Poling."

 

;)

 

Best regards,

Bob


Yes, I remember the comment about "poling".  It was stated in either their book,  No Hill Too Fast or their training tape   Ski the Mahre Way and I agree.   Once we get hand discipline under control we can teach students important things like how to ski with their feet and ankles.    YM

post #15 of 23

When I get a minute I will research  USSA's position on this as they have a clear description of the home base for the hands in one of their training tapes.  YM

post #16 of 23

Just remember, you hands are like a weather vane. It doesn't control the wind, but it does tell you which way it is blowing.

post #17 of 23
Just went through this with my son, either to low or really high. It is a difficult correction for some, that just takes time in some cases. Despite showing him, both visually and physically by placing his hands the right position at this point is lower than required (copying my bad habits, but my hands come up when required:rolleyes and I have no balance problems, which is just experience but allows bad habits).

The initial learning is usually copying someone. Learn wrong (ie my bad habits and my son) it becomes a chore to correct.

As much as it pains me, if you ski well, ski perfect you never know who you are teaching unknowingly.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
 

Phil and Steve Mahre's "Rules of Arms" for basic "ready" arm/hand stance, from the Mahre Training Center at Keystone (formerly):

 

1. Elbows forward of your spine.

2. Hands at least as wide apart as elbows.

3. If poles were half as important as most people seem to think they are, we'd call the sport, "Poling."

 

;)

 

Best regards,

Bob

 

I think I've heard that before.  Wonder who told me that....:rolleyes

Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
 

Just remember, you hands are like a weather vane. It doesn't control the wind, but it does tell you which way it is blowing.

I like that a lot.  

I also had a ski instructor say to me, "Your smart feet are getting fouled up my your dumb hands" 

post #19 of 23

USSA in their Giant Slalom technique and  DVD has a  chapter on hand and arm position and function.   The chapter is too long to express here.  However they state that the "way the hands and arms are held are critical components of the ski racers stance."  "Hands and elbows effect on balance can be enormous."  "Hands higher than the waist, elbows in front of the body, hands wider than the elbows."   Another author states how dropping the inside hand to the briefcase position after the pole tap causes the shoulders to lean into the turn and rotates the torso into the arc of the turn.      YM

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

USSA in their Giant Slalom technique and  DVD has a  chapter on hand and arm position and function.   The chapter is too long to express here.  However they state that the "way the hands and arms are held are critical components of the ski racers stance."  "Hands and elbows effect on balance can be enormous."  "Hands higher than the waist, elbows in front of the body, hands wider than the elbows."   Another author states how dropping the inside hand to the briefcase position after the pole tap causes the shoulders to lean into the turn and rotates the torso into the arc of the turn.      YM


That's technique and tactics...sorry  YM

post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
 

Just think about it for a moment. How do the hands function in a legged sport?   The hands react to other movement in the body's natural attempt to stay in balance. If "just do it" doesn't work, then the malady of poor hand position isn't habitual, but reactionary and the only alternative is to look elsewhere. And the only elsewhere to look is down.  

I agree with you that what the hands are doing can "pervade" the "system below" through its influence on stance, balance, rotation and simply using it as a tool to highlight a geek tweak. However, I fail to find a specific example where such as something like too much skiding as a reason for a bad pole plant.

 

Speaking of which, is there has anyone in "the know" who has shortened their poles to accommodate being closer to the ground during pole plants in a carved turn? I am starting to see more of the  "hand snap" from good skiers with traditionally sized poles and more traditionally vertical plants from a slight up-and-over motion of the hand grip.

 

On another note, for those with hands too idle for a good pole plant, I am sure I can find something for you to do.


Edited by Rich666 - 3/21/15 at 11:38am
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich666 View Post
 

I agree with you that what the hands are doing can "pervade" the "system below" through its influence on stance, balance, rotation and simply using it as a tool to highlight a geek tweak. However, I fail to find a specific example where such as something like too much skiding as a reason for a bad pole plant.

 

Speaking of which, is there has anyone in "the know" who has shortened their poles to accommodate being closer to the ground during pole plants in a carved turn? I am starting to see more of the  "hand snap" from good skiers with traditionally sized poles and more traditionally vertical plants from a slight up-and-over motion of the hand grip.

 

On another note, for those with hands too idle for a good pole plant, I am sure I can find something for you to do.

 Just to clarify my original comment... Hands can be important, especially in gates, as in a racing situation they are used differently than recreational skier might use his hands.  However in that recreational skier, attention to the hands may just shift the focus away from the real problem and root of balance issues. 

 

As far as your question about shortening poles, I'm not sure what you mean by "hand snap". Can you please clafify?

post #23 of 23

Let's see...Balancing issues could be related to poor boot set up, emotional issues  (fear), lack of balancing skills while sliding on a moving object (skateboard, roller blades, water skis, ice skates, skis, etc.), poor understanding of where the balance needs to be centered, poor understanding of how to balance on skis, or it could be that the hands, arms and poles are just in the wrong spot contributing poor balancing.   YM

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